By Sandra Ismanovski
Twenty-six graduates from different universities across Somalia have joined together to start up their own non-profit IT training and web solution organisation.
Aged between 21 to 25, the students first met in January 2018 when they took part in UNDP’s Future Ready initiative which aims to foster the tech talents of Somali youth.
As part of the Future Ready programme, the students undertook two months of training, including hands-on learning in software design, input on creative design thinking and basic business skills.
We spoke to five members of the group building the new organisation. Abdullahi Mohamed Noor, Abdirahman Mohamed Dirie, Ayan Abdulkadir Hassan, Abdikafi Khalif Abdi and Kamal Sadik are all IT graduates with experience working as interns with different companies.
“The Future Ready programme helped us all find each other,” says Abdikafi, “and that’s changed our lives forever!”
“You could say we’re sort of soul-mates,” says Kamal, “because we share the same vision of a better future for Somalia. We want to help make all young people tech-savvy so that all of us can help find solutions for our communities.”
“The business training we received from UNDP’s Future Ready built up our confidence to start out on our own,” explains Abdullahi, “and the exercises we did on design thinking made us look at things in a new way and always look out for opportunities to innovate and improve.”
After completing their Future Ready training, the five young men, and the other twenty one IT graduates who met during course, teamed up to set up the Somali Technology Association Centre (SOMTAC), offering IT training and web development services. Using the business skills they gained on the UNDP course, the students drafted a business plan and successfully applied to register their new non-profit organisation with the Government of Somalia.
And the centre is now off the ground - SOMTAC is already providing free basic IT training for university students. Some fifty students have now completed training.
“I think SOMTAC can play an important part in IT training provision for high schools and universities in Mogadishu,” says Ayan. “We want to help close the technology gaps in our country. Ten years from now I hope we’ll be able to say that every student in Mogadishu has IT skills they can use to improve their chances in life.”
“Our vision,” explains SOMTAC chairperson Abdirahman Mohamed Dirie “is to satisfy the ICT needs of the Somali community by achieving local self-reliance in the technology sector and tap in to the power of information technology.”
The aim of Future Ready is to encourage young Somali entrepreneurs to enter the high-tech industry and launch new start-ups. The initiative is part of UNDP’s wider commitment to empowering Somali young people to use their talent and ideas to build inclusive and sustainable development in the country.